Thai Massage is a traditional system of stretching and working with the body using acupressure, Ayurvedic Principles, Shen lines (aka energy lines) and assisted Yoga. It is done with the closes on usually. This traditional healing practice, called nuad or nuad boran in the Thai language.

The Thai system claims to focus on circulation of vital energy in major pathways called sen. These energy lines are said to be manipulated by working with various pressure points along these pathways help break down so called blockages, stimulate energy flow and restore balance and harmony. The problem with energy work is that the science has not been able to show that there is energy that is blocked or that it —whatever it is—can be cleared and moved. People do feel better but it is more likely to be due to other things like the way being touched relaxes the nervous system and/or the therapeutic relationship between the therapist and client.

Thai massage is also a spiritual discipline in that it incorporates the Buddhist practices of mindfulness (breath awareness) and loving kindness (focused compassion). These techniques are thought to help bring the treatment session to a focused and deep level. Most any type of massage done by any massage therapist can do that too.

In Thailand, Thai massage is regulated by the Public Health Ministry, people who perform Thai massage are usually required to complete 800 hours of training specifically in Thai Massage. In the US, you can take a weekend workshop or watch a few YouTube videos and call yourself a Thai Massage therapist.

Styles of Thai Massage

The Royal style of Thai massage (nuad ratchasamnak) was developed in order to treat the King and members of the royal family and as such, only hands are used, and an appropriate and respectful distance must be kept from the receiver. Today in Thailand however, most massage practitioners
use hands, feet, elbows, knees and forearms to manipulate the bodies of their clients.

The Southern style, which evolved mostly from a program of studies set up at Wat Po in Bangkok, emphasizes point pressure along energy lines, acupressure protocols, and some stretching. Sometimes a cross-fiber “plucking” with the thumbs and fingers called “jap sen” is used to stimulate energy flow.

Northern style Thai massage is practiced in and around Chiang Mai, the therapist often applies pressure along the energy lines with hands, thumbs and feet; compresses larger areas of the body with palms,
and uses deep stretching postures to achieve the desired effect. In modern times however, different techniques and styles of practice have blended together, so it is more difficult to distinguish northern from
southern variations.

Facebook Post on Thai heritage.

Thai massage Nuad Thai has been listed as representative of Humanity’s intangible cultural heritage (Intangible Cultural Heritage) or World Heritage by UNESCO in Krungbo. Kota, Republic of Colombia

The Northern and Southern Styles are difficult to distinguish from one another.

Thai oil massage. This is a very smooth type of Thai massage applied with oils. It is much more relaxing than traditional Thai massage. It is performed on a traditional massage stretcher, with a towel over the body. Its function is stimulating through acupressure the meridian or energy lines of the body. Due to these aromatherapy oils, this massage improves blood circulation, softens the skin and calms the mind.

Thai pinda massage. This is a combination of traditional Thai massage and ancestral healing methods based on the application of plant pouches all over the body in order to make energy flow. Pindas (hot poultice filled with medicated herbs) allow acting onto the acupuncture points to relax the body. It relieves muscle and joint pain and improves blood circulation.

Thai foot massage. It consists of massaging the feet with massage oil applying pressure to specific areas of the soles of the feet, which correspond with different organs of the body. The pressure on these points release toxins and improve its functioning.

Learning Thai Massage

Many schools have popped up in Thailand and also around the world and particularly in the US claiming to teach Thai Massage and some have added the name Thai Yoga Massage which there is no such thing in Thailand. Traditionally Thai Massage is passed down in the oral tradition from master to apprentice and is a lifestyle and lifetime of learning.

Getting a Thai Massage

For many years Thai Massage has been associated with brothels doing business as massage. Thai Massage was often a code word for “happy ending massage”. More recently though the demand for training in traditional Thai Massage has made Thai Massage a Legitimate type of massage in the US.

Be sure to speak up and learn how to get the most out of your Thai Massage Session.